Staff You Should Know: Latricia Hylton

When Latricia Hylton began tutoring fellow students in math and science at her native Belle Glade, Fla., high school, she had no idea she was setting the stage for a future career. In fact, upon her graduation Hylton was convinced she'd be pursuing a path in business law at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. A few classes later, however, Hylton decided business wasn't the best fit. She decided to switch to a math education major as she enjoyed the subject and also knew the degree would present solid job opportunities.

Fast forward a few years. Hylton had earned a second math degree, this time a master's in mathematics from UNI. After spending some time teaching at Hawkeye Community College, she rejoined the UNI community as director of the Upward Bound Math and Science program, which helped prepare high school students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors for college. Unfortunately, the program was discontinued, but its end provided a new beginning for Hylton who accepted a position as the math and science coordinator at UNI's Academic Learning Center.

"I can see what I'm doing matters and makes a difference. I get to witness an impact not just in the long run, but immediately."

As the math and science coordinator, Hylton spends her days tutoring students in math and science, providing academic counseling, support and mentoring; hiring and training tutor staff; teaching; conducting "Success in Math and Science" workshops; and engaging in STEM-related research. She also works to retain multicultural students in the College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences, and serves on a plethora of committees both on and off the UNI campus.

The ability to see and often measure the impact her guidance has on students, whether it be the comprehension of a difficult concept, an improvement in a grade or an increased level of confidence, is Hylton's favorite part of the job. "I can see what I'm doing matters and makes a difference. I get to witness an impact not just in the long run, but often immediately."

Take, for example, an experience Hylton had with a student who was devastated because she hadn't been able to score high enough on a math assessment tool to be admitted to her desired major. Hylton says, "After spending a few sessions with her, I realized that math content wasn't the problem. The problem was that she'd been told so many times throughout her high school career that she couldn't do math that she believed it." After spending a few sessions focused on building confidence and understanding the content, the student retook the test and received a passing score. "I still remember the day she came to see me. She was beaming."

Hylton's advice for all students is this: "Get involved with the Academic Learning Center the first day of class. Don't wait to take advantage of academic resources until it's too late." And as Hylton's own path demonstrates, "Just because you major in something, it doesn't necessarily mean that's what you'll end up doing. Somehow it will all end up fitting."

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